After You March
What are you doing today after you march to protest the separation of families?
Will you take pictures with friends and family in attendance? Will you post the pictures on social media? Will you share high-fives with strangers? Will you share contact information? Will you prepare a summary for your church? For your community group? Will you write a strongly-worded letter to the editor?
In other words, what is your ask?
In community organizing, the ask is the most important part of any action. It is the piece required to move your event from a feel-good get together to a strong, decisive event with a clear target and objective along with measurable goals. Without an ask, there is no true way to gauge success. We had a million people marching. Or was it two million? Two million people marched to express their displeasure with the administration's currency policies. The news media covered it. It was discussed on the Sunday talk shows. Then on Monday, something else newsworthy occurred. And the march becomes a simple footnote in history.
Mass mobilizations serve a purpose. They bond us with our fellow human beings. They bring awareness to an issue. They help shine a light on injustice. They reaffirm that we disagree with our leaders and that they do not speak for us. They show the world that our nation is more than one person.
But as good as they feel in the heat of the moment, for there to be true change, marches like the ones that are set to occur today need to have a measurable, achievable goal. Are we marching simply to reunite children with their parents? What about changing our asylum laws? What about those impacted by DACA? What about the growing racism and xenophobia faced by today's immigrants? What about the 11 million undocumented immigrants with no path to citizenship? What about a half-century old broken immigration system?
Why are you marching tomorrow? Find your purpose. Find the issue that irks you beyond all others. Then organize around that issue. Want to reunite the children? Find out if your local representative agrees with you. If he or she does, call their office and ask what they are doing about it. Ask if they will vote to defund ICE. Ask if they will work to ensure that no unaccompanied children are housed in your state. If they don't agree with you, ask if they are truly representing you and their fellow constituents. If they aren't, find their opponent and reach out to him or her. Learn about their platform, especially as it relates to immigration. If you are in agreement with their views, see how you can help them unseat your current representative. Make calls. Knock doors. Register voters. Do whatever it takes to get this person into office.
Today is your time to feel empowered. There are others like you. Millions of them. Reflect and relax after you march. Share your stories and photos. But on Sunday, use your experience for good. Reflect on your purpose for marching. Turn that purpose into action. If each and every person who marches does this, then, and only then, will today's marches be worthwhile.
And there are 2,500 human beings counting on us.
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